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What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer where cancerous cells are found in the mesothelium.

Mesothelium is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It is composed of two layers of cells. The first layer surrounds the organ. The second layer forms a sac around the organ. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs to glide easily against adjacent structures.

Mesothelioma is typically associated with exposure to asbestos which has been documented in about 75% of all mesothelioma cases. Most cases of mesothelioma occur 30-45 years after initial exposure to asbestos.

Mesothelioma can spread and cause damage to other organs.

What Causes Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is most often caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral fiber that can pollute air and water. Asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis when inhaled.

Asbestos has been widely used in many industrial products. It has been used in cement, brake linings, roof shingles, flooring products, textiles, and insulation.

People who work in asbestos mills, mines, shipping yards, and some older Navy ships have a high chance of being exposed to asbestos while working.

Family members of workers exposed to asbestos can contract mesothelioma through exposure to the workers clothing. Smoking greatly increases the risk of contracting mesothelioma.

Symptoms of Mesothelioma

Symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until 30 to 50 years after exposure to asbestos.

Some patients do not show any signs of sickness in the early stages of development of the disease. When symptoms do occur, the most common ones are:

  • dyspnea
  • pleuritic pain
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • bowel obstruction
  • blood clotting abnormalities
  • anemia
  • fever
  • a cough that won't go away
  • fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss

If you believe you have mesothelioma, go to a doctor immediately and ask your doctor to thoroughly examine you. You may need to take blood tests, CT scans, x-rays and an MRI.

It is very important that the mesothelioma is diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

Treatment options for Mesothelioma

Some of the most common treatment options for mesothelioma are surgery, chemotherapy drugs, and radiation therapy.


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